Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mama and the Kids are on the way to Taiwan

With all that is happening in Japan, many military folks are electing to put their families on flights out of the country.

Seems you can pretty much send the family anyplace you are comfortable with. This rule is correct;  the family talks it over and decides where they want to go, back home or to a location closer to Japan.  Taipei is not quite a 4 hour flight from Tokyo.

You can read the latest evacuation news from Japan in the Pacific Edition of Stars and Stripes.

I decided to look at the possibility of heading for Taiwan under the "Voluntary Evacuation" program.

I would have been one of the first to put my folks on the plane if I was stationed in Japan.  It's just not worth taking a chance, anything could happen.  Those nuclear plants are already a disaster, what else might happen.

Taiwan Per Diem rates are very sufficient, especially in Taipei. 

Interesting to see how it could work out.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Beauty of Taiwan

As I was surfing the Internet this morning, I ran across a beautiful flyover video of Taiwan.

The areas seen on this film are only a small part of the grandeur of Taiwan.

Note: If you have High Speed Internet, it's better watch if you:
Start the video, then bump up the view to 720p and click on Full Screen View.
Beautiful background music too!
When the Advertisements begin on the bottom of the screen, just click on the ad's black X.

You might want to consider a trip back to Taiwan this fall.  We have a group of veterans and families who have signed-on and will be returning to Taiwan to join with us as we drive around this island to see the old sights and discover new ones we didn't have time to visit before.

Here's our proposed November 2011 Trip Itinerary, open it HERE.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Another Look at the New CCK Footprint Museum

This past Tuesday I traveled down to Taichung and together with a few other folks, we entered CCK Air Base and made our way to the old Chapel where the new Footstep Museum is housed.

It was a beautiful day, sun shinning with temperatures in the mid 70s. As we drove from the gate toward the old chapel, everyone was looking about, trying to spot old buildings recognizable from the "old days."  Many of the buildings from our days have been taken down, but, there are a number still standing that would inspire your heart to thoughts of past days at CCK, those many years ago..

We passed by the old gasoline station, deserted now, the old BX (Navy Exchange) and buildings in that general area, the O' Club, and the now, rusting water tower.  The base theater, education office and bowling alley, and looking out the window on the left side of our car, the Chapel.

We parked, stepped out of the car, and looked around..  Here we were, standing on, one of the highest points on CCK.

 I felt a tug on my heart strings as I gazed on the Chapel.  So many thoughts ran through my mind; here I was, one of the few Taiwan Veterans who would ever have an opportunity to step  inside a museum dedicated to the folks who served and gave a part of their lives in service at CCK and Taiwan.

 We walked up the sidewalk toward the front door.

An Air Force representative who spoke English was waiting our arrival.  
 This plaque explains the museum

Here are three videos I took at the museum

We left the museum about 3 hours later, drove back through the base, checked-out at the main gate, taking a left turn on the highway as you did so many times, and headed toward downtown Taichung.

We drove to a Tea House Restaurant in Taichung to relax over a light lunch and a time to talk about our visit to CCK.

 We sat inside the restaurant, it was more comfortable.  This was a Tea House Restaurant, the drinks were really tasty.

Here was my snack, hot noodles with bean sprouts, minced pork and mushrooms, it was very good.  Just above the noodle bowl are two Mochi cookies with walnuts. These were my first Mochi cookies, they were fantastic! To the right of the Mochi is a small plate of chicken strips with sauce on the side.  I believe the tall glass just above my orange tea with lime drink is milk tea with red beans.  

Thanks for coming along on our trip to the CCK Footstep Museum.

Please leave your thoughts and questions in a comment below.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Early Days at Kung Kuan Air Base

John Kmetz, who is now living in Indiana, writes about his tour at Kung Kuan AB later CCK AB in the mid 1960s.  You will find some interesting memories of the old days at CCK  just as the base expanded with the arrival of thousands of newly assigned USAF personnel.

I was with the first group of airmen to arrive at Kung Kwan Air Force Base in Tiachung, the name of the base was later changed to Ching Chuan Kang ,when they found out that Kung Kwan meant Air Base, Air Base Air Base did not make sense. While I was there they built most of the permanent structures; barracks, mess hall, etc.

When they built the mess hall and started decorating the inside they bought two large urns to put by the front doors and filled them with sand to use as ash trays. They found out later, when we had a bunch of pissed off civilian KP's made know that these were burial urns.  The translator explained that it would be like them putting caskets by the front door to use as ash trays.

Also one of the new barracks was built was on top of a burial ground area.  The local folks mostly buried their dead in large clay pots.  These pots made perfect cool dens for the snakes which were coming up through the air vents in the crawl spaces under the barracks.

After the medics treated a few personnel for snake bites, they discovered the problem and tore down that barracks and sprayed the area with some type of poison.  I believe that first barracks was an Officer’s barracks. I know the enlisted guys were still living in Quonset huts; there was no air conditioning back then.

I have no pictures.  I took a bunch of movies only to find none of them turned out. I want to say I was there in late 65 possibly early 66. If you can get an exact date as to when US first occupied the base, it would be very close as we were the first ones there. In the early days the base commander had a Motto Cross track built right on the base for guys with their motorcycles. (Ed Note: First Mess Hall was constructed at Kung Kuan by Navy Sea Bees, floors and screened wooden frames for TENTS.  Construction completed 14 May 1965.)
When I was there we had a tent for the mess hall, another for a mail room.  There were very few permanent structures.

I also remember a C130 that was carrying mail and payroll went down on the side of the mountain.  They sent Air Police and volunteers up there to recover the money etc. that was scattered everywhere.  A lot of it was coins that had been in wooden boxes. (Ed Note: I find no record of a C-130 loss in 1966)

We also had a tent for a movie theater.  I still remember the first movie that showed, Billy the Kid Verses Dracula.  It sucked but I think every one on the base went to see it.

I remember when I arrived they told us that we could not spend US money down town.  I had a month of vacation pay along with one regular check waiting for me, which I cashed in for NT Taiwan dollars. Well,  I then found out that I needed real money for the base, so I stood by the window and caught guys coming up to get Taiwanese money and sold it to them.  What a mess. At that time the rate of exchange was 40-1.  I looked like a really rich drug dealer.  A pack of cigarettes cost $40.00 NT down town.

I still remember going in to buy my first pair of shoes in a down town shoe store.  They had hundreds of different styles to pick from, so I picked out a pair I liked, told him size 9 ½.  The man told me to sit down.  He brought out a large piece of white poster board, told me to take my shoes off and stand on the paper.  Then he then took a pencil and traced around both of my feet, as he said, one foot is always different from the other. I was the told to come back in one hour to pick up my new custom made shoes.

It was almost the same with all our clothing, as it was just about the same price to buy a shirt as to take them to the laundry on the base (we did not have washing machines or dryers yet.)  And if you did take them to the laundry, which was run by a Ti family, your clothes came back with a really strong fish smell, as they washed them off base in a stream.  Who knows what else they used that stream was used for.

 I am 64 almost 65 and live right outside Chicago Illinois in Indiana. I was also stationed at good old Rantoul (Chanute) AFB in Illinois for a short time, right by home.  I think in all I was at about 6 different bases. Got out as a Sergeant or Airman First Class as they used to call it, 3 stripes.

When we first arrived in Taipei, 136 of us, they told us they did not know of a base in Taichung that was because; there was not one there yet. They kept us in Taipei at about four different hotels.  I think we were there about a week and a half while they figured out what was going on.  We had some of every one in our group, I was a baker & cook, my buddy was in pest and rodent control.

When we got to Kung Kuan AB it was a tent city except for a few single level barracks

I still remember them evacuating everyone who was not on duty one afternoon.  There was a fully loaded B-52 coming in with no instrumentation, they did not know what was working and what was not, so all of us who were off-duty went down town.

 Later we found out, my buddy from pest rodent went threw the aircraft and found that a rat had chewed threw a wiring cable, cooked himself and all instrumentation.

The only other time most of us where told to leave was when Chiang Kai-shek check came to visit the base. They stationed Air Police on the roofs and all of the barracks had to be empty, so off-duty personnel had to leave the base.

One thing cool was they had an area on base where there were a few Taiwanese soldiers lived.  You had to walk past it to get to the temporary BX we had. Well in a tree they had a pet monkey who loved hats.  There were branches over hanging the path; the monkey got one of my fatigue caps.  He also had an officer’s hat, baseball caps, even Taiwanese soldiers hats. He hung them all over in that tree.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Taipei Air Station Barracks

Photos of the TAS Barracks are very scarce.

A contract was let to Feng Yung Construction Company on 20 January 1964 to construct the 3 story "Airman's Dormitory."

The barracks was opened sometime in the 2d half of 1965. There is no mention of the completion of the building in the historical records available to me. I think too many things were on-going at Kuan Kuan AB (CCKAB) during this time, which over-shadowed the opening of the new building.

When I arrived at TAS in early December 1965, I was housed in the new barracks for a few weeks, then told to pack my bags and move.  I ended up at the FASD Hostel on Chung Shan North Road, just outside the HSA East Compound.

So many of us called those HSA Hostels home at one time..

Prior to the opening of the new barracks, many airmen were housed across the street from the TAS gate in the old CAF Hostel. You can find some photos HERE.

I have this photo, taken on the street side of the Dormitory sometime during the 1967-1968 time period, by David McComb.

 I believe this is David standing beside his POV.

Does anyone want to name the make and model of each vehicle in this photo starting on the left side of the picture, beginning with the yellow Chevrolet.

Please add your list as a Comment below.  

Here is a sky view of the "new" Taipei Air Station.
Most of the "old" buildings were still standing toward the top of the photo.

The NCO Club and I see the Cotton Building, (2165th Communications Squadron Building.)
Does anyone know the story of how the Cotton Building was named?

I assume for someone named Cotton, but what story lays behind the name. The must have been a plaque.

Those were the days............

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Veterans Day Parade 2010 in New York

A little late to be talking about Veteran's Day 2010, but better late than never.

What a video!
And the Music... Beautiful !!!